A nuchal translucency scan procedure is a sonographic prenatal screening scan. Its main use is to detect cardiovascular abnormalities in an unborn baby growing inside a mother’s womb. Through this scan altered extracellular matrix composition and limited lymphatic drainage can also be detected. The scan also assesses the developing baby’s having Down syndrome. To detect the above, the scan uses ultrasound as its method.
Doctors offer this scan along with blood test in first trimester combined screening options. What the scan does is measure the clear space in the tissue at the back part of your baby’s neck as these baby accumulate fluid at the back of their neck during the first-trimester, leading this space to appear larger than what’s perceived to be normal. The reason why this scan is recommended in the first-trimester is because at this time the base of the baby’s neck is still transparent.
The function of the scan is not to cure the abnormalities but just to diagnose the issue. It just assesses the risk the baby has of developing Down syndrome or other cardiovascular diseases. Once you have the test results indicating abnormalities, you can decide whether to have amniocentesis or chorionic villus sampling (CVS) to find out whether the baby is actually affected. Or else you can wait and combine the results with second-trimester screening results to evaluate the health condition of your baby or to decide whether to undergo emnio.
Usually the scan is done through the abdomen but sometimes the nuchal translucency can only be seen by inserting a probe into the vagina. The main variables used to calculate the risk are the mother’s age, the nuchal translucency measurement of the baby, the gestation age of the baby, the blood tests and the fetal nasal bone. Getting the scan done in the first-trimester is beneficial because if there are abnormalities then the detection is early. Early detection enables parents to know the risks their baby is subjected to, along with avoiding the risk of slight miscarriage during invasive test like CVS.
Some other advantages of having this ultrasound are confirmation of the baby’s heart beat, assessment of the dating of pregnancy and also structure of the baby. One also gets a review of the uterus and pelvis.